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“Now this Telstra plan’s a little bewdy, folks”

By freef’all852

“Now this Telstra plan’s a little bewdy, folks … only one owner; a little old lady who only used it on Sundays” … no doubt to slander Turnbull!

I don’t think I am breaking new ground to you all by saying that my telco; the “Big T” is doing some very, very strange things to my communication connections bill these last few months … from exactly December 2016, to be precise, when our usage account suddenly almost doubled and our monthly bill soars to $5oo+ and hasn’t gone down.

Our usage habits haven’t changed from before that time; we still have days when we are not even home to use the internet, and this past month my own computer was away being repaired and so I was off-line at my desk for over a week. But no difference to the bill and I am the most prolific user of the internet in our house.

Now here’s where the “strange things” come into play …

I will start at the beginning of our internet woes. Go back a couple of years, and we were on the wireless network, our modem then was one of those big “Gateway” things with the three aerials on the back and it served us well for quite a while. Then one day it suddenly stopped working … the weather was hot and we concluded (with a Telstra tech’s agreement) that it was cactus … broken.

“That’s alright” the Philippine’s call centre person assured, “we will send you a new up-dated device that will improve your reception.” I presumed it was going to be another wireless modem and I must add I was given no advice it would be otherwise. And so we received in the mail a new “Advance 4G” (mobile broadband) modem.

I still thought we were on wireless when we used that advanced 4G. Why would I think otherwise? I’m no tech-head … I had no information it was otherwise from Telstra. There was nothing on the box says otherwise, and if there was some writing somewhere then it must be so small print, which my old eyes would have mistaken it for a smudge of dirt!

And it wasn’t until the reception got so much worse, us being in a mobile black-spot, I started to go to forums like “Whirlpool” and others to find out about the problem. It was on one of these forums that I read that the Advance 4G was so correctly described as no more than “a shit mobile phone with a shittier screen!” … and some went on further to describe how they got better reception hooking their Samsung smartphone up to their laptop as a modem instead and using the Advance 4G sim-card – until Telstra found out and threatened to block the service.

You see, out here in the regions – in the country – mobile reception is shocking/terrible/hopeless and up till now the only option has been Telstra.

Anyway, one day at a local govt’ meeting where two young “blades”, one from the NBN and the other from Telstra who spoke at a “information and update” meeting where I learned that the wireless network had been withdrawn from the more outlying regions (ours!) to be concentrated into the larger regional towns with a NBN fixed wireless tower to service the town. Sooo … THAT explained the broken Gateway modem and the Telstra offer of the Advanced 4G mobile broadband … a more unstable device I have yet to use.

The upshot was that we here in the more sparsely populated areas were unceremoniously dumped off the wireless network in a plan conjured up between the Turnbull government and Telstra to throw us upon the mercy of Telstra’s mobile broadband network. The shit had just begun!

Back then we had a plan of 4gigs data – strangely that now was never enough – so we were moved up to a 8gig plan and it was not long after that when the “extra data usage” started to go through the roof! And from December last year it almost doubled … and so did our bills to a point where it is now make or break time on what we can do.

I have made innumerable calls to Telstra over this extra data usage because I just cannot work out where it is going to. Is it being “piggy-backed” from our WiFi? Is it a data mistake at Telstra? Is there a continual upgrade of Windows 10 going on? All these were looked into, without the least help from Telstra except to give a little moral support and to suggest new plans. Well we tried those. Plan after plan to culminate in a new mobile modem; the best thing since sliced bread that can deliver up to 5G broadband: the Netgear “Nighthawk 5G modem” … except it did not work out here in a black-spot area.

We (Telstra tech dept) tried everything but to no avail. It was just a useless bit of high-class tech shit … it might just as well been a turd … it was useless, so we arranged to send it back, along with the new plan (and I will spare your patience the complexities of THAT fiasco!) and now we are STILL waiting to receive yet another new plan with a new sim-card for the old Advance 4G along with a postage return bag so we can return the “Nighthawk 5G” modem.

(I’ll tell you one strange thing I have “discovered”: my partner’s iPhone and a Samsung tablet “gifted” to us by Telstra before last Christmas as a “token of our appreciation of your loyalty” – which as an aside we are now being charged a plan, for which both devices have one plan each – YET, I can see that one of them, perhaps both, regardless of their own data allowance, appear to be “piggy-backing off the WiFi hotspot” (yes, I am learning the jargon) created by the Advance 4G home mobile broadband modem. Perhaps because of the mobile phone reception being so bad here).

We have been waiting for about three weeks and we have now got this month’s bill – again over $500 – with 13gigs of “extra data” usage. I rang Telstra … I was given a little moral support and was told the person there on the end of the line “would speak to my supervisor. ” And THAT is where it sits.

NB: I did go to forums again just now to find out about this extra data usage stuff – and I see there is a legion of customers – even on Telstra’s own “crowd support forum” that are having the same problem: extra data usage gone somewhere but God knows where! I don’t. Those other customers don’t. Even Telstra doesn’t seem to know. And I believe the Telstra management think it’s all our fault!

So hands up all you other bloggers out there who are having similar problems with this fantastic example of privatisation in action?

That useless Turnbull/ LNP … they betrayed us all.

(I can’t even get on the internet as I am writing this!)

This article was originally published on



  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Have you contacted the Telecommunications Ombudsman (who I found to be exceedingly helpful in my days of desperation dealing with Telstra)?

    I suggest you explain the onerous set of events and recommend that the outcome is that your bill is wiped out.

  2. Terry2

    In recent weeks I have dealt with seven Manila based Telstra staff who have all done their utmost to understand why I can’t get an adequate service at my home : initially, after two days, they said that their software did not recognise my address – I didn’t exist !
    Subsequently they found me but they kept on saying that I needed to talk to NBN – we don’t have NBN cabling in my regional area, I have satellite internet with NBN but my problem was with phone reception.

    I travelled to my nearest Telstra shop and to my amazement they told me outright that they were sales only, they had nothing to do with service or technicians ; they sent me back to the Philippines. Why can we not provide these essential services onshore.

    I will probably have to go to the Ombudsman.

  3. puffyTMD

    I am glad am with TPG, have been for years, onan unlimited data plan. I bet Telstra doesn’t offer that! Turnbull sold out the Bush. Scummy shyster.

  4. puffyTMD

    is this you, jc?

  5. Glenn Barry

    Just a hint for you – given your poor network reception – you may being charged for data which needs to be retransmitted because of data corruption, so the poor network and transmission problems are at YOUR expense…

    I had a similar occurrence with Virgin Mobile and a 3G dongle – data usage 45% above actual data – I ended up just not paying the bill and ditching the company altogether

  6. Kaye Lee

    “Have you contacted the Telecommunications Ombudsman”

    You have to be kidding me. After losing all telecommunications at my business, including EFTPOS and security, and taking two months for them to be fully restored because of stupid effing FttN being “available in my area”, the TIO suggested I submit a claim for my business loss of $20,000. I did that in August last year. Since that time, my case manager left the TIO and the “new” case manager has done nothing and refuses to answer countless voice messages and emails.

    I find on my new Telstra bills that I have several new phone lines. When I asked why, apparently the FttN NBN I was forced to hook up to needs extra lines for EFTPOS and security for some technical reason I forget so I am now paying for kazillions of phone numbers I don’t even recognise.

    And then there is our home connection which is also FttN – this is the punishment for living in a marginal electorate with an insipid federal MP who tried to shore up her ineptitude by getting us involved with the Liberal rollout of their crap NBN early in the piece. It drops out several times a day and it now takes the home phone with it – something that never happened before when I lost internet connection. The speeds we get when it does work are nowhere near the speeds we pay for.

    And when you try to find out what is going on, you speak to the Philippines who tell you “Do not worry madam, I will fix everything for you” as they repeat their spiel over and over listening to nothing you say.


  7. lawrencesroberts

    Kaye, I hate to sound paranoid but you are one of the best analysts on the net today and I would suspect foul play.
    Why did our beloved Prime Minister give us a fifth rate system when the super duper Rudd model seems a real bargain
    at a billion dollars right now. Answer to this cosmic question please?

  8. Kaye Lee


    If I type “bananas”, the white van has pulled up outside. Send help 😉

  9. margcal

    I’m with Telstra – reluctantly. That’s another story.
    Talking to the Philippines is useless. After much searching I found this so I can email a complaint – I have it bookmarked:
    They do respond, not necessarily with any skill or insight but you can have a back and forth ‘conversation’, trying to get clarity.

    I also post any complaint I have to the Telstra FB page – lets the whole world know and occasionally either Telstra or another dissatisfied customer will come up with an answer.

    My most recent issue that I contacted them about is relatively trivial. I’d like their bills to come from one stable email address so that every month I don’t have to find the bill in my Trash folder. I was told I didn’t understand the internet, I could get someone to teach me, I could pay for a Telstra Superior service and ‘might’ get help there. They also told me I could manually add the address to my safe list. What earthly good that would do when the next bill would come from another different address I don’t know.

    I wonder if Telstra employees are embarrassed at working there. I would be.

    After all that criticism, I pay compliments to one Telstra shop employee at Eastland VIC. Early in the year she sorted a problem re change of plan that several phone calls (useless off-shore call centre, of course) and three visits to the Telstra shop at Camberwell VIC didn’t have a clue about.
    I dare say she’s either got the sack for being too helpful or retired defeated by the company by now.

  10. Kaye Lee


    One thing that drives me crazy is the email they send me to say my bill is available to view on their site. Why not just attach the friggin’ bill like they used to.

    As for employees being embarrassed, I have had to deal with many technicians through work. They are nearly all contractors. They will straight out tell you that the system is crap and that is the very sanitised version of their opinion of what is going on.

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Kaye Lee,

    your experience is not the only experience, thanks so much anyway.

    As a private household customer 10 years back admittedly, I did have my own win with Telstra. Since then, I’ve grown weary of them and have not been a customer any longer.

    However, following the chain of complaints up via the ombudsman service in each service industry is an important starting point for people to take their complaints into their own hands and to attain fair treatment.

  12. wam

    My NBN was assembled by 457s one syrian and the other a turkish kurd. the box is on the front verandah and the cable goes through the ceiling to the desk.
    We were set up by a tattooed woman in a testra shop to suit our non downloading requirements. She was so obliging my darling gave her a pair of coloured doc martins(

    margcal casual observance shows in IT see the woman, in local gov see the woman, in public service see the woman, in insurance see the woman, at call centres sorry I am hard of hearing what did you say?

  13. Miriam English

    Glenn Barry beat me to it. I’d say he was correct that your extra data usage has jumped because the crappy connection is causing constant resends.

    Back when I used to use a dial-up modem the phone lines are so crappy out here I couldn’t get very high speeds. The 56Kbps modem gave me data rates of, if I remember right, something like 12Kps. I knew how to send commands to the modem to instruct it to drop down to a lower speed, so I set it to run at 36Kbps and that worked beautifully. The problem had been that the connection had been unable to manage the more finely tuned high speed.

    Perhaps there is a data setting for your modem that will let you set it to a lower speed. That might paradoxically improve your data speed. These days modems are accessed via your web browser at a special local address. Try something like:

    I’m not as knowledgeable about broadband modems, so I don’t know how you’d make it use a lower speed, but maybe you can find something by muddling around in the settings.

    Good luck.

    The sooner Telstra is nationalised again, the better.

  14. freefall852

    Since this post was written (today) we have had a kind of resolution..although as you have read..this has happened before and here we are!..But it seems our six mobile plans have been reduced and the plan I was waiting for to come in the mail hadn’t come because someone in Telstra had deleted it..why? knows…two of those plans were found to never have been used and were wiped..the old “Nighthawk 4G” ( I thought it was 5G ) will have to be taken to a Telstra shop…a REAL Telstra shop , NOT a franchise shop (???) to be assessed before they will take it back and the assistant will assist us to re-sim-card the old Advance 4G modem to upgrade it to the now new plan!…and if YOU can work all that out, could you explain it to me please!
    We await an outcome as we have received a email telling us that our new plan is now in place….I was on the phone for about 2 hours and I was brain-dead by the end so I don’t quite know what I agreed to…

  15. Miriam English

    Robert Cringely (actually a pen name for a technology journalist) wrote back in 2001 about a wireless connection he made with a neighbor 10 kilometers away, but in line of sight, using a wireless aerial mounted inside a Pringles tube and pointed directly at them. I think they had a similar tube pointed back at him. This allowed him to share the internet and costs with his neighbor because the internet was crappy at his location. Those wireless aerials normally only reach about a hundred meters, but the can setup let it work over many kilometers. The catch is that it has to be line-of-sight.

    I’ll try to find the article in my personal archive. A quick search on the net didn’t turn it up, but I did find this:
    which improves on the Pringles can for an improved signal.

    Okay, I just found the original article by Robert Cringely — the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine comes to the rescue yet again:

    Makes very interesting reading. There are increasing numbers of people joining up to get better net access by sharing a connection and costs. The companies hate it, of course because it eats into their sky-high profits. But if it pisses them off there is an easy solution: improve their service.

  16. jim

    Ha ha ha my fault I enabled a Cloud back up service (when on the turps) and forgot to turn it off or sign out the next day, having just brought a new phone the only one since 2008 btw the next day I transferred some music mp3 via usb to my new phone only 2.8 GB which was then automatically uploaded to the cloud back up system ouch!. silly me. I only use wifi. and won’t have the NBN not while Turnbulls LNP are in

  17. bobrafto

    I’ve had excess data problems with Optus and they have always credited those excesses.

  18. freefall852

    Thanks, Miriam E’ ..I have saved that article for later…where we live in the Mallee, there is ample room for “line of sight” I will be interested in reading that.
    This extra data usage is what worries me..@$10 a gig, it bloody well adds up!…but a googling will show that there is a legion of users out there with the same problem without knowing where it goes..conspiracy theories abound!

  19. Dave

    I really don’t know why anybody would still be using Telstra, There are many NBN and telecomms providers and retailers out there with much better rates, plans etc, many actually have Australian based, English speaking consultants and advisers, online free opt-in/out etc. etc. Just do your research, and I would suggest that Telstra would come last…… Then tell ’em to stick it!

  20. darrel nay

    reply for Dave,
    Unfortunately there is a communications oligopoly in Australia. Where I live in rural NSW, if you choose a carrier other than Telstra you will find that you go to the back of the cue if you have repairs needed for phone or internet – they can take months to send technicians unless you are with Telstra.


  21. Zathras

    As a former Telstra employee of just over 40 years I can attest to the fact that more and more of the company is being outsourced overseas and that service is becoming increasingly abysmal. The last number I saw was just over 10,000 overseas staff and experienced staff have largely been replaced by Contractors with limited capacity to use Telstra’s internal systems.

    Some of the remaining field staff are having the livery removed from their vans and double-sided business cards printed so they can represent both Telstra and Telstra/NBN when attending faults and the rest have been replaced by Contractors.

    When NBN Contractors move into a new area to precondition street cabling to connect to their hardware they typically leave a trail of devastation in their wake with cabling faults and damaged infrastructure which can take a long time to identify and repair.

    No matter who your ISP is, it’s Telstra who are ultimately responsible for repairing line faults whether they use Contractors or (the remnants of) their own staff. Most ISPs are just middle-men or paper shufflers who ultimately are just another link in the chain when it comes to getting things fixed.

    Back when it was the PMG or Telecom it was answerable to the Minister first and the customer second with continual and reliable service being the objective, regardless of cost.

    Now the customer has slipped down the list behind the shareholder and profit is the new objective with no customer ever “getting something for nothing”. Even the most customer-dedicated staff find it difficult to circumvent Telstra’s internal systemic obstacles.

    Even overseas customer service staff have to follow the same “flow chart” when they speak to you and don’t have the ability to work beyond their imposed limits. That’s how you can get trapped in a frustrating enquiry loop with no way out.

    If it was done properly and as originally intended, the NBN would have been a national asset but this slip-shod dodgy mongrelised version is the legacy of yet another politicised wasted opportunity.

  22. Michael Taylor

    When NBN Contractors move into a new area to precondition street cabling to connect to their hardware they typically leave a trail of devastation in their wake with cabling faults and damaged infrastructure which can take a long time to identify and repair.

    Tell me about it!

  23. freefall852

    Zathras…ex-bloody-zackly what I have suspected…any user who has had to swerve and dodge around the flack of confusion / information out there and goes looking on forums, will find thousands and thousands of like frustrated users.
    I have to agree that once Telecom (Telstra) was a respected “Big Australian” , the utter , utter stupidity of “privatising” has betrayed this nation…I seriouisly believe those most vocal in such promotion which has led to this situation ought to a more favourable dragged to a public space and horse-whipped!
    And Dave..out here there IS no other service than Telstra (at the moment)..but I do see that Optus is moving into the regions..

  24. Kaye Lee

    “Kaye Lee,

    your experience is not the only experience, thanks so much anyway.”

    For heavens sake. You really say some silly things at times JMS. Your experience from ten years ago may have been wonderful but, since the rollout of this ridiculous NBN, the Ombudsman’s office has been swamped – 112,000 new complaints in 2016 alone.

    Thanks so much anyway (rolls eyes)

  25. margcal

    Kay: I’m only thankful I don’t have to deal with Telstra for commercial purposes, domestic is bad enough.

    wam: I’m happy to wave the feminist flag whenever possible but in this instance, with the exception mentioned, the women were as bad as the men.

    NBN is currently being rolled out in my area, but not to my street until 2018 – not holding my breath. Friends and acquaintances who now have NBN in theory find themselves with nothing, their phones having been cut off, for weeks!!, in anticipation of a smooth changeover that hasn’t happened. OK, you can get by with your phone or whatever wifi plans you’re on for various devices. But what about the frail 90+ year olds who only had a landline -it and their help call button thingy was out of action for three weeks.
    When NBN is at my door I’ll be talking to my trusted ISP – a small local outfit where you talk to the owner every time, every call answered promptly, help given free above and beyond what I pay for.

  26. Kaye Lee


    I also live in a mobile blackspot so I rely on my landline. My mother is 95 and in a nursing home. She had a fall and the nurse tried to ring me only to get a message saying “this number has been disconnected”. That is the message people get when the bloody thing drops out as it does several times a day (only briefly usually but a severe PITA). My in-laws are also both in their 90s and still living at home. I am the nearest contact for emergencies. I can’t afford to be uncontactable.

    That is a travesty that elderly people are left without a phone and help button for weeks on end.

  27. Zathras

    Michael Taylor –

    I hope this illustrates my comment.

    When NBN move into a new area where Fibre to the Node is being used, they modify (pre-condition) street cabling so connections can be easily moved from the existing Telstra RIM cabinet to a new NBN cabinet. They are supposed to formally advise Telstra when they begin so they can give some sort of post-work guarantee to fix subsequent faults but sometimes they move in and out without doing so which complicates subsequent repairs.

    Remember that the Contractor motivation is understandably to “get in, get out, get paid” and they have no vested interest in the long-term.
    Since there’s no profit in re-work they are in no hurry to rectify problems. They may even wait until they are “back in the area” before fixing things rather that following an orderly repair queue which extends repair time.

    There are also different Telstra databases available that detail customer connections. If an outdated one is used by NBN it can result in wrong connections (which happened to me).

    In addition some of the larger pits have lead-sheathed cable joints to keep water out of the cables. Some Contractors have been known to use these as convenient ladders to climb in and out of the pits and this can crack the lead and allow water to get into the cables.

    When it comes to migrating onto the NBN, the process seems to start without checking all the factors. For example, if your service used to have a fax facility or a remnant of some odd software category, their migration process just halts mid-way and they leave it up to you to follow up the problem with Telstra personally. This can leave you without any service at all and put you back at the end of the migration queue for a long time.

    I should mention that I didn’t work in these areas first-hand during my career but heard this information from internal sources and
    I’m sure many people have experienced the effects of these problems.

    It’s no longer a service-based industry but a money-making one.

  28. Marty Davey

    For people in regional areas having trouble with mobile broadband reception, these guys are a real help.
    I have no commercial interest with them but have used their services and bought their product. They sell external antennae and extension cables for mobile broadband modems, which range from simple whip antennae to things similar to TV antennae. They also provide a service where they do a topographical analysis of your location and towers in your area and suggest the best options for you. I was able to improve my reception from 0-1 bars to 3-4 bars by adding an external antenna to the TV antenna pole on my house.
    Hope this helps some of you.

  29. Michael Taylor

    Before we moved into the new house six months ago Carol and I were always at our computers. It took three months to get the internet here (a combination of a Telstra stuff-up and an NBNCo stuff-up), but our NBN is too slow to even bother hopping on our computers. It’s hopeless. Utterly hopeless.

    For the internet we have to rely on our mobile devices or our tablets. They’re not the greatest, but at least they’re faster than Turnbull’s NBN.

    It shouldn’t be that way. But it is. It’s not what Turnbull promised us.

  30. Havana Liedown

    What speed are you getting Michael?

    Measure it here:

  31. Michael Taylor

    I’m getting download speeds between 2.9 and 3.5 on Turnbull’s NBN. The gravatars won’t even load on this site. The local businesses around here are pulling their hair out too. They want good internet speeds but just can’t get them.

    On ADSL2, btw, I was getting 4.5.

    When I had Conroy’s NBN in Canberra I was getting 98.5.

    Talk about going backwards.

  32. Marie once loved my Home

    I hate Telstra

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Kaye Lee,

    I stand by my comment of 10.30 pm on May 18. Making a complaint via the Ombudsman’s Service is worth a try. If it doesn’t get the response and action people need, then try something else.

    Kindly desist from your tendency to put down my suggestions which I have given in good faith.

  34. havanaliedown

    That’s a poor speed. Is the modem connected at the “main” phone outlet of your premises? Have Telstra performed a line check?

  35. Michael Taylor

    Yep, done all that. It’s not just me that’s getting crap download speeds – it’s the whole area.

  36. Kaye Lee

    Get over yourself JMS. I recounted my experience. You are entitled to do likewise.

  37. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Pardon? You only recounted your experience after I placed my post. Your tone was combative, dismissive and mildly offensive (and still is).

  38. Kaye Lee

    You read a tone that was unintended. I was expressing my frustration with the TIO, not you.

  39. Matters Not

    MT. I’m with Optus. Using havanaliedown link above. I get down load speeds of 62 plus with an upload speed of 1.4 or thereabouts.

    Using a different ‘calculator’, I get downloads speeds of 38 (it varies day by day) with the same (1.4) upload speed.

    Nevertheless, one wonders as to the reliability (and accuracy) of the measuring device.

  40. Michael Taylor

    MN, we are with Internode (who I’m very impressed with). The cable, of course, is Telstra.

  41. Zathras

    People seems to have forgotten that the NBN was never intended to use existing copper cable and all the crazy promises that Abbot/Turnbull made were unsurprisingly hollow.

    Other physical factors affecting speed are “mid-point injection” where the NBN signal is being swamped by existing ADSL signals on the same cable, causing interference and errors. Retransmitting corrupted signals obviously slows down the speed.
    Speeds should increase somewhat as more people on your section of street cable migrate off ADSL onto the NBN.

    However another factor that most overlook is that many ISP’s don’t provide for enough bandwidth on their links to the NBN so those links may be heavily congested and so speeds are affected.

    That’s why some ISPs offer “unlimited downloads” – they run their links flat out all the time. If everybody waters their garden at the same time, water pressure drops for everybody connected to that street mains pipe. Larger street pipes are required to push more water along to maintain the same pressure but that’s just not happening in many cases.

    Speeds can vary between service areas and between different ISPs within the same service area for this reason alone.

    The ISPs progressively open up more capacity but not until they really have to because it costs them money. Once they get enough new connections to overcome the added bandwidth costs they may eventually purchase some more.

    Of course Telstra automatically will get the blame (as they always do) so it doesn’t worry the ISP owners once you’ve signed up with them.

    After all the finger pointing the buck has to stop with the Government where it belongs for building a second-rate version of the planned network.

  42. freefall852

    I tried to post an answer to Michael last night, but I lost my internet connection..I have just got back on..I think..we’ll see if this post goes up!..My speeds are very simillar to Michaels..the mobile broadband we have been sacrificed to is shithouse…utterly shithouse..we as a nation have been totally betrayed by Turnbull and the govt’ with the encouragement of Murdoch et al….there will HAVE to be an investigation of the connection between those parties to see the collusion to destroy national infrastructure for the benefit of foreign nationals.

  43. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    if there is an investigation as you suggest, it needs to have severe consequences for the perpetrators who deliberately sabotaged the intended 1st class NBN.

  44. Terry2

    Turnbull has, in fact, done the job he was instructed to do by his then leader. Looking back it makes interesting reading and reflects on the mess we now have :

    ABC reported in September 2010 :

    “Tony Abbott has ordered Malcolm Turnbull to “demolish” the [Labor] Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) as he today brought him back to the Coalition frontbench to head up its communications portfolio.

    Mr Turnbull makes his high-profile return to the shadow ministry nine months after he was dumped as Liberal leader and replaced by Mr Abbott.

    Declaring the NBN would be the “absolute focus” of the political battle of the next 18 months, Mr Abbott said he could think of no better person to “ferociously” hold the Government to account on the issue.

    “The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale,” Mr Abbott said.

    “I’ve already described it as school halls on steroids, and we can be certain the NBN will be to this term of government what pink batts and school halls were to the last term of government.”

    As always, we owe Tony Abbott a vote of thanks for his brief and his misguided ‘leadership’ of this country : the similarities with the Trump ascendancy are remarkable.

  45. Kaye Lee

    Go back to March 2007…Compare Terry’s reminder to what Labor was saying

    Federal Labor has unveiled plans to raid the Future Fund to build a $4.7 billion national high-speed broadband network.

    Under the plan, Labor will sell up to $2.7 billion worth of Telstra shares held in the Future Fund to help pay for the project.

    “We believe this is a critical step when it comes to Australia’s long-term economic future,” Mr Rudd told reporters.

    Labor proposes to invest up to $4.7 billion – including the existing $2 billion communications fund – in a partnership with the private sector to build the network over the next five years.

    “Nation-building in the 19th century was about building a new national railway network for Australia,” Mr Rudd said.

    “Nation-building for the 21st century lies in building a new national broadband network. It’s part of our pathway to the future.”–broadband/labors-47-billion-broadband-plan/2007/03/21/1174153131586.html

    Labor nation-building – fast accessible broadband for everyone

    Coalition nation-building – let’s do what we did last century again.

  46. diannaart

    Indeed Kaye Lee

    Would like to add:

    Labor nation building – are more about building for the nation – am waiting and seeing what Labor actually does achieve after it wins the next Federal Election.

    Coalition nation building – Bwwwaaaahhaaaahahaha… uses 20th C tech, because less thinking is involved and if private for profits can still extract a $ from it: it is re-framed as “nation building”.

    A thought on Ombudsmen, like anything that is affordable and FOR public good, it is under-funded in the hope that the procedure can be slashed because “no-one is using it any more”. Basically, if we don’t use it, we will lose it.

  47. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    You’d make a good surfer, diannaart. 🙂

  48. Miriam English

    freefall852, I experience common blackouts here. Back before my current wireless connection I managed with dial-up. Because of the crappy quality of the phone lines it wasn’t even 56Kbps. I developed the habit of writing blog entries into a text editor (not a wordprocessor — a text editor is small and allows only unstyled text). I’m typing this into a tiny, fast text editor right now, as is still my habit. I save often as I’m typing. When I’m finished I’ll copy and paste the text into the AIMN comment box.

    Back when I used dial-up I would write while offline, dial out onto the net, post what I needed, download all my next batch of email, look up the pages I wanted and save them to my computer, then go offline again. I still do almost all that, but have the luxury of being online most of the time. I still compose separately into a text editor, I still save pages that I want to read more leisurely later, I still download all my emails to my computer.

    My internet connection is generally pretty reliable now. I’m pretty lucky compared to most of my friends. I live in a wireless shadow so seem to have been given a special service. However it still sometimes dies. When it does it is hardly any inconvenience at all. I still keep a dial-up account with Beagle which has no data limits. I can download all night, every night if I wish. It still costs me just $12.95 a month. It does tie up my phone, which makes friends worry about me, but they can still reach me via email.

    We forget how pampered we are. I remember being amazed at how “fast” my very first 300baud modem (about 30 characters per second) was. I said excitedly to my girlfriend “Wow! It types text to the screen faster than I can!” Nowadays if we can’t download a half-million character ebook in a few seconds we get impatient. When I would load a few hundred byte program from cassette tape I would get up to go make myself a coffee (back in the days that I drank caffeine). Now it seems interminable if I can’t copy a 200 megabyte video in several seconds. I was copying some things to a flash drive for a friend and caught myself getting impatient. How quickly our goalposts shift. We live in an era of technological wizardry and we adapt so quickly we can no longer see it.

    Yes, things should be getting better instead of slipping backward with our laughable NBN, but we are still worlds away from where we were just bare decades ago. It helps our blood pressure and our general outlook to step outside our expectations and have a chuckle at ourselves.

    There are developments under the radar which are changing things. People are pooling their access and cutting out the big telcos. Small government is playing a part here too, in a number of cases providing free internet to entire towns. In most of Australia’s most heavily populated areas there are now wireless clubs that have a decentralised network that avoids using the telcos completely. This is also starting to spring up in the bush with so-called “ad-hoc” networks joining people together (I want to set one up around here). Now with cheap terabyte drives, it is really easy to pool vast amounts of data in cooperatives, drastically cutting the need to access the internet. There are also moves to make “ad-hoc” networks of smart-phones where signals jump from phone to phone and avoid big telecommunications companies entirely.

  49. freefall852

    Miriam…I can appreciate what you are referring to…a time not so long ago…I started in computing with the original Apple Mac..then to a external loader for the Mac which I thought was longer having to feed one floppy to load the computer, eject it and feed the next..But in defence of our impatience now, I do quite often set out to do some posting on blogs, only to have the entire network flutter and drop out…sometimes for hours at a time forcing me to change my routine..the plan B. option.
    I am not too sure of those ad hoc systems you write about..could they be used to surf overseas blogs etc?..or will they be gradually reduced to just local networks?
    It is enough to make one weep for what was possible and what was lost.

  50. Miriam English

    freefall852, true. But if it’s any consolation, it’s not permanently lost, just postponed. What we end up with will be better, but probably won’t be like Labor’s NBN, and will definitely be nothing like Turnbull’s NBN (thank goodness).

    And some possible good can come out of the screw-up. Communications have been getting more centralised. This has been a push towards decentralising it. The more unreliable Telstra is, the more people will seek alternatives. At least I hope so.

    Ad-hoc wireless systems are decentralised. They’re just a way of connecting many computers wirelessly so no single machine is the central server, but in a sense all of them are. Like a kind of peer-to-peer system. There’s a description on Wikipedia.
    They can be connected to the larger internet at one or multiple points, but don’t really need to be. The larger the network, the less it needs the greater internet, though of course there are always things you’ll want that are only available through the internet. The more storage it has, the less often it needs to be connected to the internet.

  51. Zathras

    Miriam English,
    I really don’t think a wireless ad-hoc network is any sort of replacement for a real communications network.

    It’s only intended to create a point-to-point connection between people with a shared common interest (like emergency services or people within an office building). It’s like a a closed Wi-Fi system with the internet component switched off, like sharing files on a home network.

    All it would be able to do is to communicate with other PC’s within that (closed) network. What’s the point if you don’t want to share a file with somebody you’re connected to? If there is a common internet access, what sort of speed would you have if there are a lot of people sharing that common access point at the same time?

    Then there is the problem of signal strength, speed and security. Would you want the connets of your PC open to anybody within range and what sort of range is possible, especially in a suburban environment?

    There used to be talk of the next generation of the internet where people could access the surplus processing power of other computers connected to the internet as if it was all one vast super-computer but given the security problems we already have I somehow don’t think this will ever happen.

  52. Miriam English

    Zathras, you are surprisingly negative.

    Ad-hoc networks are not meant to replace the internet, just to help, and they are a “real” communications network.

    Sharing with others on that network is precisely the point.

    Yes, many people sharing one or a few connections from the network into the wider internet is slower than each person having a fast connection, but we were talking about people suffering crappy or entirely absent internet connection. For them such a network is a blessing. Bottlenecks are alleviated, to some extent, by large caches using cheap 2GB drives, especially if they have software that uses predictive updating of commonly accessed sites (e.g AIMN).

    Urban and suburban areas already have large free networks, and have had since the early days of computing. Find your local packet radio club.

    Yes speed, signal strength, and security are problems in any network. No matter how fast we get and no matter what signal strength we manage we will always want more. Security is largely solved — at least in the Unix/Linux world. I don’t know how well people with shitty Microsoft Windows manage on such systems, but I guess they could always use a second cheap ($50) computer as a firewall.

    😀 Oh, Zathras. You really need to stop being so negative. It constricts your view. That system of using spare cycles on computers to create supercomputers via distributed computing? It already exists. Heard of SETI@home? Folding@home? BOINC? The original internet when it was still called the ARPANET was built for exactly that purpose. I believe the peer to peer filesharing program Grokster sold computing power of otherwise idle computers to companies that wanted access to a vast supercomputer (unfortunately the vile “entertainment” industry killed that company off using law suits). There are many, many examples of such shared computing systems. They are mainly limited by the cost of net access, which is ridiculously high in Australia. It is difficult to know whether a more generalised sharing peer-to-peer super computer built from the entire internet will happen. I doubt there will only be just one. I expect the number will grow. Already shared, distributed computing systems work on “areas as diverse as mathematics, linguistics, medicine, molecular biology, climatology, environmental science, and astrophysics, among others.” (Quote from Wikipedia article on BOINC.)

  53. freefall852

    I use and prefer to use Firefox as my browser…I think it has a better structural and user-friendly appearance that the others. But I do have suspicions and indeed , I have asked Firefox if microsoft and / or Google are waging a “war” against their browser….as sometimes I feel the server is blocked from certain actions or slowed down by those mega corps’…Perhaps I am just a tad paranoid.

  54. Steve B F (@stevebf)

    Hi all ….. Most interesting and varied discussion … Various comments from the situation in a Canberra suburb …
    — Have had no direct residential dealings with Telstra since we went with TransACT in 2002 and had twelve good years of consistent cable internet service with them. When TransACT was bought by Iinet around three years ago, we stayed with Iinet (and at the same time were able to drop our separate ISP). I have no complaints at all with Iinet service or support to this point. Currently our ADSL Download speed is at 20.66 Mbps with Upload 4.43 Mbps and that is consistent. We have a VOIP home phone with unlimited download amounts (as of late last year). All for a cost of $69.99 per month. The customer support (the last time I had dealings with them last year for a system upgrade) was contactable 24 hours … coverage obtained by Iinet having support centers located in New Zealand, Western Australia and South Africa (the various centers take over on a set schedule as the time changes around the world so that you are dealing with people during normal daylight hours and presumably at fully staffed levels).

    — The only time I have had any dealing with Telstra since 2002 was when I worked for an Embassy here in Canberra for a few years. That Embassy had their local internet connection with Telstra. When it worked, it was fine. But when there were problems, like others have noted, we had struggles with the off-shored call centers. No problem was resolved until we could obtain (eventually) a phone number for a local Telstra technician. Once we had that, and a trouble ticket number (extremely important) we would start to get somewhere. Until that point, round and round in frustrating circles we would go. I mention this in order to emphasize that even official government entities are treated in an equally frustrating and unsatisfactory manner by Telstra … it is just not individuals and certainly not just those located in regional areas. Though of course those regional conditions would make it even worse.

    — Later this year the NBN is scheduled to come down our street. We are even slated (amazingly enough) to have FTTH (what was originally conceived for all of the NBN. I am waiting to see what impact that will have on our current operating situation, as Iinet is an NBN provider/collaborator and the only thing that will be changing for our location (presumably) is the actual means of connecting to the Internet. My understanding is that we are all set up to shift over when that happens, and, indeed, have little choice in the matter. It will be a relatively prime example of either the negative of positive situation of the NBN at that time … at least in our area.

    — I use a combination of Firefox, Chrome and at times even Explorer as a browser, haven’t noticed any difference with any as regards basic operation.

    Yes, if only Abbott/Turnbull hadn’t wrecked the original FTTH concept of the NBN for the whole nation. And for shallow political gain.
    “Infrastructure PM” … “Nation Building PM” ….. both are descriptions that anyone in their right mind would never think of applying to either Abbott or Turnbull.

  55. JoeAb

    Miriam yes ‘ad-hoc’ networks are great and will continue to improve the creator of one of these “mesh” networks using old mobile phones will be an enormous savor when systems fail or during emergencies especially in places where there is no infrastructure.
    Dr, Paul Gardener-Stephen has meticulously been working on this for years and proudly launched his concept on a now (unfortunately) defunct ABC show the New Inventors

    The serval Batphone may provide some assistance for those of you in regional areas

  56. Michael Taylor

    Steve B F, I found TransACT fairly good when I had it for a year when I lived at Kambah. No complaints from me.

  57. diannaart

    @ Jennifer

    Apologies for not replying sooner – stupid illness issues – had to do some unexpected heavy physical work which has left me totally drained – so light-headed I feel like I could be surfing 🙂

    I have experienced minor probs overall with landline, internet, mobile. I avoid ‘plans’ which lock you in. Have landline with Telstra – no problems with getting repairs when required, separate Internet account (small company which was overtaken by iinet), but no problems and Vodafone for my not very smart Motorola.

    I will be moving soon and going regional, found all comments very interesting and informative.

    I am hoping being forewarned will prove to be sufficiently armed.

  58. Zathras

    Miriam English,
    If you’re right I stand corrected. Sceptical – but corrected nonetheless.

    Perhaps I’ve heard about too many other potentially revolutionary systems that promised much but somehow never delivered or even happened.

    In the end it will probably come down to what the consumer wants – shopping, gossip, streaming TV, Facebook, cat videos…and how access to their needs can be improved.

  59. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    My respect for you abounds (literally).

    Even when not feeling well, you are able to remain logical, reasonable and balanced on choppy waters like a surfer.

  60. Miriam English

    Zathras, no worries. 🙂 As you say, many potentially revolutionary systems end up on a shelf covered in dust and cobwebs.

    Packet Radio has been around since the very dawn of the internet. It has yet to hit the big time — maybe it never will, being held back by needing to pass radio operator qualification exams.

    On-the-sly wi-fi + pringles tube ad-hoc networks don’t have the same problem. I have a feeling they’re strictly speaking not legal, but are effectively undetectable because they operate in a narrow beam. And I doubt anybody would challenge them because it would likely be ruled legal. We might never know the true extent of them because of their underground nature.

  61. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Packet Radio could be a good example of how licensing laws in AUS (coz that’s all we can control) need changing to liberate brilliant ideas and people’s ingenuity despite sociological impediments.

  62. diannaart


    Colour me blushed.

    Waters are always choppy these days

  63. Ann McGavin

    I had a problem (not the same) with Telstra when I was a customer (now with Barefoot) I had had enough being the underdog with no power so I lodged a complaint with the ACCC who intern contacted Telstra and Telstra contacted me to see if we could rememdy the problem.

  64. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well done, Ann McGavin.

    I’ll add that one to my repertoire.

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